Tuesday, July 29, 2008

AOTS Abrams Interview

Attack of the Show's Alison Haislip interviewed JJ Abrams and the cast about Fringe during the San Diego Comic-com.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bad Robot Statue

If your a fan of JJ Abrams and have some money to burn, you might be able to get hold of one of the Bad Robot mascot figurines. The limited edition run of 500 was designed off the same 3D printer that created the Cloverfield monster and Star Trek's new phasers. How you can get one and how much it’s going to cost was not released. It would be something I wouldn't mind having but sadly I am saving up for a new computer instead (my current is 7 years old).

AICN On Fringe Preview

Yesterday the San Diego Comic-Con held its "Preview Night" where it showed the broadcast version of the Fringe trailer and AICN was there to review it.
Not surprisingly, the pilot is a real attention grabber, with Abrams & Co. (including Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the team behind Abrams' Star Trek movie) giving us yet another series opener that begins with a fated airliner. Unlike "Lost," nobody survives this flight from Germany, which lands on autopilot in Boston. In fact, the way the passengers and crew die is pretty fucking gruesome, especially a certain co-pilot. FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian lovely Anna Torv) is brought in to investigate by her overbearing, often cruel boss (played by "The Wire's" Lance Reddick, who also appeared in a couple "Lost" episodes this last season). The evidence leads Dunham and fellow agent John Scott (Mark Valley of "Boston Legal"), who also happens to be Dunham's secret lover, to a storage facility where they find a strange lab and a familiar-looking man operating it. The ensuing chase results leads to near-fatal results for Scott when an unknown mixture of chemical causes his skin to crystalize and actually become see through. The effect is unbelievably cool.

Dunham search becomes two fold: find the possible terrorist who killed a plane load of people and find a cure for her dying boyfriend. Both searches lead her to Walter Bishop (John Noble), a former Harvard researcher who has been locked up for crazy for the last 20 years. The only way Dunham can interview him is to get the permission of a family member, so she finds Bishop's son, Peter (Josh Jackson), an intelligent wheeler-dealer who sometimes seems more con artist than actual genius. The rest of the show is a wild ride toward a scientific cure that takes this group of investigators and researchers from trying to cure one man to uncovering what may be a global conspiracy to turn portions of the world's population into human lab rats--a phenomenon known as "The Pattern" in certain whispering circles. I love that the Abrams bunch has pretty much taken the documentary THE CORPORATION and turned it into the basis for this promising show. The idea that apparently random events in recent history (such as massive tsunamis) may have been the result of testing on a giant scale. I'm guessing it's no coincidence that our Dr. Bishop shard a lab at Harvard back in the day with a man who now runs one of the largest industrial science-based complexes in the world.

The cast is across-the-board strong as a rock. Torv is a great new face who seems pretty game as a skeptical investigator whose work on this case opens up a new career for her--to look into criminal or dangerous abuses of "fringe science," such as teleportation, invisibility, and reanimation. Yes, I said it! Re-fucking-animation! Also very good in the cast is Blair Brown as the ice-cold corporate mouth piece for the big corporation. She's only in a couple of scenes, but they are two of the most revealing sequences in the film, and she's just masterful. Noble's portrayal of Dr. Bishop might be in need of a little toning down. This incarnation of Bishop might be too "nutty professor," which I realize is exactly what he is. But it just felt a little forced. That being said, he delivers some of the show's best lines, especially when he sets out to cook up a batch of homemade LSD.

In many ways, "Fringe" is a more reality-based version of "The X-Files." I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, nor will I be the last. But that's because the tone of the show and the potential cases that Dunham and the Bishop men will look into seem right out of a more believable, science-based version of "The X-Files." Whether the series can keep up the immediacy of the first episode is unknown, but I'm thinking yes. The pilot is a slam dunk, and at the very least, check that out in September and prepare to be immensely entertained.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Abrams: "Deeply Involved" in Fringe

JJ Abrams answered some Fringe related questions at the Television Critics Association press tour the other day. As part of that he declared he was "going to be deeply involved in the show. I feel jealous I didn't get to [direct] the pilot." How involved remains to be seen but with the many projects on his plate I am betting his role will be advisor level at best.

He also Fringe "doesn't require the sort of insane, absolute dedication" to follow as his past shows such as Lost and Alias required. As for the bit torrent pilot episode now online, that was not leaked by them and it is not the broadcast version. X-Files was cited as a source of inspiration but so was the Twilight Zone and Night Stalker.

So there you go, if you’re an Abrams fan this is good news but I remain skeptical about how much input he will have in the show over the long haul.

High Expectations for Fringe

Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly inidcated he has high expectations for Fringe according to TV Guide.
Fox’s greatest hope this fall is unquestionably J.J. Abrams’ big-budget, high-concept sci-fi thriller Fringe, which Reilly and boss Peter Ligouri aggressively pursued. “We offered him a series day one. We knew the log line, that it was sort of The X-Files, Indiana Jones kind of thing. This show just feels right,” says Reilly.

“I do feel that ultimately any pressure or expectations for this or any other show could ruin a show,” [Abrams] said in a separate TCA panel. “It’s like if you expect something that’s going to change your life, no matter what it is, it’s almost invariably going to be disappointing. … I don’t think any one show can save the fall.”

Abrams says Fringe was spawned from his fascination with the work of David Cronenberg and the writings of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, among others: “that weird place where medicine and science meets real life.” He also cited The Twilight Zone, The X-Files and Night Stalker as inspirations. Orci adds that Abrams’ team, including fellow collaborator Alex Kurtzman, “sat in a room and kind of listed off our shows. For me, I always wanted to do kind of a real genius solving problems. Alex was a huge fan of Twin Peaks and J.J. was a huge fan of Altered States [whose star Blair Brown has a crucial role in the series]. So it’s a cross of those things. Obviously, The X-Files left an impression, but that’s not where we started.”

“Fringe is in many ways an experiment for us,” says Abrams. “We’re trying very deliberately to do a show that doesn’t require the insane absolute dedication to a series that if you miss an episode, you have no idea of what is going on.” (Abrams told an hilarious story about tuning into an episode of Alias during its run at actor friend Greg Grunberg’s house and thinking, “I was so confused. It literally was impenetrable. … [Alias] was definitely a show that while I loved working on that show and miss it, I can see how it was difficult.”)

Fellow executive producer Jeff Pinkner says, “The standard we are trying to hold ourselves up to is that when the first commercial hits, ideally people are calling their friends and saying you won’t believe what just happened on Fox. You have to change the channel and check out this show.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pinkner Talks Fringe

Fringe Executive Producer Jeff Pinkner spoke with Newsarama about JJ Abram's Fringe discussing the overall plot and provides more information about each of the characters.
“The premise is that an event happens that brings FBI Agent Olivia Dunham, onto a case,” explains Executive Producer Jeff Pinkner. “In the course of it, her partner is actually injured and in an effort to try and save him, she seeks out a brilliant scientist who himself has been incarcerated in an institution for the last 17 years for various reasons. He is doing research in the fringe sciences, the very out there concepts, which of course are all very real like telekinesis and reanimation. The only way she is able to get him out of the asylum is with the help of a family member so she is forced to seek out his son Peter who has had no relationship with him over the last 20 years. He has no interest in helping but does so because he sees how emotionally invested Olivia is.

"The three of them are able to actually solve the case and during the course of it, it is revealed to her that there is actually a very specialized department of Homeland securities unit looking into a series of recent events that the government is referring to as The Pattern. These are unexplained events which seem to call into question what we understand as reality. With the help of the scientist, Walter Bishop, played by John Noble, and his son Peter, played by Joshua Jackson, the three of them set out to discover what the hell is going on.”

Although there were reshoots recently in New York and a completely finished pilot hasn’t been previewed yet, somehow the fledgling show is already being compared to other cult hits.

“Olivia is just an incredibly driven, incredibly brilliant agent with her own complicated past that we will peel back over time,” reveals Pinkner. “She is exposed to these events which seem to be taking place around the globe at more regular intervals than previously and sets out to solve these cases, if anyone is behind them, if they are simply freak natural occurrences, and at the same time, figure out her life.”

“Peter is sort of a jack of all trades. He is a brilliant person with a lot of his father’s innate intelligence but given his relationship with his Dad, he has turned his back on science and what he believes in. He has sort of lived by the seat of his pants for many years and in the process, has left a wake of disappointment with business partners and vengeful ex girlfriends.

"Peter is sort of a guy running from his own shadow, living by the seat of his pants, and cutting business deals as he globe trots. He is forced by honor and duty to join the team as well. He has one foot in and out and isn’t happy about being his father’s babysitter. Peter is understandably freaked out with the matters they are looking into but he finds a certain satisfaction in his own degree of expertise and being able to help. He has feelings for Olivia, a complicated relationship with his father, and starts to find his faith in the world as he moves along.”

“Walter is perhaps one of the most brilliant scientists known but in the name of science, and on behalf of the government back in the 70’s and the Vietnam/Cold War era, he has perhaps left a lot of harm in his wake. He has potentially damaged a lot of people and developed a lot of technologies that others may have exploited in the past. As a consequence, there either was or wasn’t a series of events that caused him to lose his mind and break down. He was found criminally guilty and put into an institution where they have done all kinds of advanced therapies to him, which have further damaged his mind. Despite all that, he’s the only person we can rely on to help us solve all these cases.”

“Walter Bishop had a former partner, William, back at Harvard when they were both working for a government corporation called Massive Dynamics. William has since gone on to become one of the richest men on the planet. Think Bill Gates. He runs a company which has its hands in every kind of consumer goods you can imagine from energy to television sets.”

“William’s chief operating officer is a woman named Nina Sharp who takes a maternal interest in Olivia and a concern for her looking into these cases. Nina has clearance to know about The Pattern so the corporation has vast interest in these events taking place around the world because at the very least, they could affect Massive Dynamics’ business. It’s also possible they are trying to harness these events to exploit them either for profit or some other reason.”

“To be honest, Josh was one of the first people who read for us,” recalls Pinkner. “People also had Pacey in mind and Josh is not Pacey by any means. He is very much all grown up. Josh is an adult now and Pacey was an adolescent. Every other actor we auditioned, it was like ‘We need Joshua Jackson.’ Josh is perfect for the role and interestingly enough, he forced everyone to reconsider him because everyone had a little bit of a Pacey hangover. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but actually great. The character is just not Pacey. This character is a lot darker, a lot more soulful, and Josh came in and nailed the role and convinced everyone he is Peter. He is incredibly talented and pretty much emails me every couple of days going ‘When can we get started?’ The other fantastic thing about Joshua is he is wildly intelligent, as is his character, so he just brings a depth and gravity to everything he does.”

“As for Anna Torov, the process for Olivia had gone well past the 12th hour because nobody was willing to settle. Somehow, someone discovered Anna, an Australian actress who hadn’t really worked in New York before. She was put on tape in Australia and as soon as everybody saw her audition, it was instantly ‘There’s our girl! We found her! Moving on!’”

Monday, July 14, 2008

SDCC Fringe Panel

The San Diego Comic-Con finally released its full Saturday and Sunday schedule. As part of that Fringe will have its own panel to go along with the screening of the pilot episode on Thursday. In addition Wildstorm has its panel which will include discussion of the Fringe comic books series from the publisher. Finally, Zoic Studios will have a panel discussion its FX works for various television programs including Fringe.
July 26th, 4:45-5:45 Fringe Q&A and Trailer Screening— J. J. Abrams (Lost), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman—the team behind Mission: Impossible 3, Alias, and the upcoming Star Trek feature—join fellow Fringe executive producers Bryan Burk (Cloverfield) and Jeff Pinkner (Lost), as well as stars Anna Torv (The Pacific), Josh Jackson (Shutter), and John Noble (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), for an exclusive Q&A about one of the most anticipated new television series of the fall season, a drama that will thrill, terrify and explore the blurring line between science fiction and reality. The session will kick off with the screening of a trailer for the series. Television Week deputy editor and columnist Joe Adalian moderates. From Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, Fringe premieres September 9 and airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on FOX. Ballroom 20

July 26th, 6:30-7:30 WildStorm Brewing— Get the inside scoop on what’s coming up from DC’s wildest imprint from VP Hank Kanalz, superstar artist Jim Lee, editorial director Christos Gage (WildCats: World’s End), and creators Neil Googe (WildCats: World’s End), Wes Craig (Wildstorm Revelations), Brian Denham (X-Files), Joshua Ortega (Gears of War), and Jason Craig (Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash). Find out about WildStorm’s newest creator-driven books, plus the latest on The Authority, WildCats, Stormwatch, Gen 13, The Lost Boys, X-Files, J. J. Abram’s Fringe, and much, much more! Room 8

July 26th, 6:00-7:00 Exceeding Expectations and Exploring New Worlds: Feature Effects for the Small Screen— Zoic Studios moderates a discussion with VFX supervisors on their passion for creating narrative enhancing, eye-popping effects for television. Some of the best in the business discuss future trends as well as their contribution to the television series Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, The Middleman, Lost, Eureka, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, and the new fall show Fringe. Room 32AB

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fringe at SDCC

The San Diego Comic-Com has released its schedule for the convention being held from July 23-27th. For the first time this year there is a "Preview Night" where several new fall TV series show their pilot episodes including Fringe.
6:00–7:30 and 7:30-9:00 Fringe Pilot Screenings—Comic-Con and Warner Bros. Television proudly present two exclusive premiere screenings of the pilot episode of Fringe, the highly anticipated new FOX series from J.J. Abrams (Lost), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the team behind the upcoming Star Trek feature, Mission: Impossible 3 and Alias. When an international flight lands at Boston’s Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, The Pacific) is called in to investigate. When the search nearly kills her partner, Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley, Boston Legal), a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), our generation’s Einstein. There’s only one catch: He’s been institutionalized for the last 20 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son, Peter (Josh Jackson, Shutter), in to help. Under Special Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), our trio will discover that what happened on that fatal flight is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth. Fringe also stars Kirk Acevedo (Oz), Blair Brown (The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) and Jasika Nicole (The Mastersons of Manhattan). From Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, Fringe premieres September 9 and airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on FOX. (Please note: we will clear the room between screenings. Seating is limited. Pick the screening time that works best for you!) Ballroom 20
To my knowledge the episode is available on bittorrent but now you can also see it (if your early enough) while at the convetion. Let the site know if its any good.